I am Dani. I struggled with my mental health for much of my teenage and early adult life. I felt this deep emptiness like I didn't belong. I dwelled on mistakes and challenges hit me hard.
When I became pregnant I was elated. We had gone through IVF and so I felt I had been given this incredible gift. I felt like I had found my place, my purpose.
My beautiful son was born and my mental health almost instantly plummeted. Compounded by sleep deprivation, I start feeling really anxious and overwhelmed. I struggled to understand what was happening and why I felt like I did. I had everything I wanted so why was I finding it so hard?
Sadly I didn't not get the support I needed, a mixture of breakdown in post natal support and my own fear to keep reaching out in case somebody thought I was an incapable mother. I struggled on for 18 months before getting private help through counselling, and going on medication. I was then diagnosed with post natal depression. At the time I felt deep shame. I felt broken. I thought I was not meant to be a mother.
Despite the support I continued to struggle with my mental health. A friend was training to be a life coach and offered to help. She held the space for me to talk and unravel my thoughts. She helped me realise that I was not broken. Through talking to her and my brother, who was a massive support at the time I realised that I was finding it hard because it was hard! Because I was trying to exist on broken sleep, waking every hour most nights.
I made a commitment to myself to get well. I knew that I needed to change my approach, my behaviour and my beliefs. I didn't want my son growing up seeing his Mum struggling. I wanted to get well for him. What I now know is that what I thought had broken me, was actually the making of me. It took me to the darkest place for me to see the light and make the changes I needed.
I have realised that in order to show up fully and share my love, I need to love myself. I need to prioritise my needs in order to give fully to those I love. I need to be selfish, to be selfless. I have since trained as a life coach and meditation teacher and I now help women, including Mums to find time for themselves and prioritise their needs.
I think there is still stigma around post natal depression. I think there is still a focus on happy baby, happy mum. The baby cannot be happy if the mum is struggling. For anyone reading this, if you're struggling or finding it hard, please reach out. You are not broken, it is hard, and we aren't meant to do it alone.
You can reach Dani to connect with her and learn more about the amazing work she does here https://www.linkedin.com/in/danielle-thornton-walker-94b5b76a/